The UK is likely to face an unusually cold winter in which power producers will “strongly favour” cheaper coal over gas, according to the UK National Grid’s Winter Outlook 2011/12.

The forecast sees a 20 per cent to 60 per cent probability of temperatures slipping below average while power generation availability is predicted at 61.3 GW and demand at 55.8 GW – both figures down 4 per cent from previous projections.

Germany’s loss of 8.3 GW capacity through its nuclear phase-out is also set to raise the UK’s gas exports to Belgium, according to the report.

National Grid also predicts that 2 GW in mothballed capacity could become available if electricity prices rise.

Peak demand for gas is forecast to remain unchanged at 55.7 billion cubic metres, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Qatar offsetting a slide in supply from the UK Continental Shelf.

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